When Jasmine Parent was nine years old, she already knew that when she grew up, she would be either a teacher or like her mother, a social worker.
Supportive of her daughter’s ambitions, her mother brought Parent into the office one day and introduced her to her co-worker, a woman named Bette.
“Bette was the only Black social worker in the department, in Kentville, in the Valley,” Parent explains. She remembers a conversation with Bette that day which made her realize at a young age the overwhelming need for diverse representation in the area of social work and social services. That conversation solidified her choice to one day become a social worker.
It’s a fitting career choice. Since she can remember, Parent has been interested in advocating for others. “I always joke that I’ve been doing this since grade school,” she says. “I’ve always been that friend to mediate and get everyone together; let’s talk this out, let’s hash this out.”
It’s no surprise then, that after graduating from Acadia University, she began working with the Black Educators Association as a regional educator.
“That role was specific to supporting African Nova Scotian high school students and their families and helping them navigate different experiences of racism and discrimination within the school board and within their communities, and being a voice and an advocate for them. And that really sparked my love for being an advocate in a more professional setting.”
When she earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Dalhousie University in 2014, she continued to develop these skills as the community outreach worker with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She provided one-on-one support for at-risk families in crisis situations and coordinated healthy development programs in the Valley.
She adored this field, particularly her work connecting with and helping families. Five years ago, she decided to push her skills further by starting her own businesses, I Am Worthy Wellness.
“I really approach health and wellness […] through kind of a holistic lens,” she explains. “Something I’m really passionate about is addressing the person, and not just the problem, and really trying to support the entire person. That’s what I have been doing with my business…”
After five years of supporting a variety of clients through her business, Parent is ready for a new challenge. When she read that King’s was looking for an Equity Officer, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve honestly been dreaming about a role like this for about a decade … and when I saw the job ad posted, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’ … I think for me, it’s wanting to be in a place where change can happen.”
For Parent, an organization’s commitment to following through on promises is key.
“I read and I believe that report, and after meeting Bill, I really believe him … from what I’ve seen, it seems that King’s is on board and genuinely wants to create change within [the] university, and is making it a priority.”
A role first introduced to King’s in 2020, the Equity Officer consults with members of the community regarding EDAI issues, provides support to marginalized students and supports the Board of Governors as it oversees the university’s progress with EDAI initiatives. President Lahey says that the hiring committee was particularly impressed with Parent’s community focus and energy.
“Jasmine brings a deep understanding of how to motivate individuals to meet their goals. Alongside this, she understands the important dynamics of working in community and how to support diverse groups of people move toward a larger, collective purpose. It’s really an ideal foundation for this role.”
Parent, who steps into her new role on October 3, plans to begin by building relationships.
“I think, for everybody, for all humans, we all want to feel validated,” she says. “We all want to feel like people are listening to us, that we’re seen and we’re heard. And we know that certain people within our society are often listened to more. Whether or not people are doing it on purpose, it happens. I think that’s really going to be my first real focus, just making sure people know who I am, and know that I’m genuine in what I want to do and authentic in wanting to support others … I’m excited to get that going and make connections with students and faculty.”